UTube Vs. YouTube: You Call this a Litigation Minefield?
Now that YouTube has money in its pockets, the video-sharing site is being sued -- but not by the media companies.
Universal Tube and Rollform Equipment Corporation, an industrial manufacturing and sales firm, filed suit this week against YouTube in Ohio federal district court, arguing they've incurred dramatic Web support costs and lost business because surfers looking for YouTube (youtube.com) accidentally visit Universal Tube's site (utube.com) instead.
"The spillover of nuisance traffic to Plaintiff's neighboring website at utube.com has destroyed the value of Plaintiff's trademark and internet property, repeatedly caused the shut down of Plaintiff's Web site, increased Plaintiff's internet costs by thousands of dollars a month, and damaged the Plaintiff's good reputation," the complaint reads.
Universal Tube is citing trademark infringement. They are requesting a permanent injunction to stop YouTube from using youtube.com, and transfer of that domain to Universal Tube. They are also suing for lawyer's fees.
Since Google announced its intent to purchase YouTube last month, Universal Tube says their hosting fees have increased from less than $100 per month to more than $2,500 per month.
Universal Tube's complaint also states that YouTube promotes pornography and copyright infringement, and that the people who mistakenly visit utube.com are not the types of people Universal Tube wants visiting its Web site.
"These unwanted visitors often fill out Plaintiff's sales request form at utube.com seeking more information in a vulgar and belligerent manner," the complaint reads. Examples of said messages include "WHERE THE F**K ARE ALL THE VIDEOS??? 1.5 BILLION FOR THIS PIECE OF SHIT WEB SITE? GOOGLE GOT TAKEN!"
Exhibit number two in the complaint is an inquiry from a police department in Australia: "You currently have a video titled Cunt the Movie. It may contain child porn as the people who are in it are underage. Please remove it from the site. Could you please also advise me if you are able, who uploaded it onto your site. Regards, Simon Clemence Detective Senior Sergeant Victoria Police Sexual Crimes."
The rest of the complaint goes on to state that Universal Tube has lost business because of time devoted to dealing with complaints, reporters, and lost sales. Universal Tube also cites the Lanham Act for trademark infringement, and says YouTube is willfully confusing customers about the nature of Universal Tube's business.
"The UTUBE mark is distinctive and a strong mark, as there can only be one internet domain in the entire world named utube.com."
I've made the complaint itself available for download here.